Biggest, fastest, slowest – latest population growth and change in Australia
Each year the ABS releases population data for LGAs and other small area geographies in Australia, and the latest publication was recently released. As always there’s some very interesting data in this release, and the .id team (mainly Glenn and Simone) will be preparing a number of blogs using this data over the coming weeks.
In 2014-15, Australia’s population grew by 1.4%, or 317,100 persons to reach 23.8 million. Greater Sydney remains our biggest city, with a population of 4.92 million, followed by Greater Melbourne (4.53 million) and Greater Brisbane (2.31 million). Greater Melbourne recorded the greatest volume of growth – 91,600 persons, and this was also the highest growth rate at 2.1%. Greater Sydney continues its recent growth spurt, adding 83,300 persons (1.7% growth rate) and if it maintains this trend will hit 5 million sometime in the next year. Population growth in Greater Sydney and Greater Melbourne continues to far outstrip that of other capital cities and its notable that Greater Brisbane added more persons to the population in 2014-15 than Greater Perth (35,200 and 31,100 persons respectively). The slowdown in Perth’s growth is no surprise given recent macro level demographic trends in Australia and this is now being reflected in data for smaller geographic areas such as LGAs. The volume of growth in Greater Perth is half of what it was just two years ago.
If you are interested in the population trends of Australia’s cities, you may also be interested in om of our articles in this blog series:
Where are the fastest growing areas?
The ABS does a great job at providing analysis of this data for SA2s on its website, but this analysis will focus on LGAs. Most of the fastest growing LGAs were located in Australia’s capital cities, typically on the urban fringe – but of course there are notable exceptions. The table below shows the fastest growing LGAs (top 20) as measured by the growth rate in Australia during 2014-15.
|Rank (a)||LGA Name||State||Population – 2015||Growth rate 2014-15 (%)|
|2.||Serpentine – Jarrahdale||WA||24,108||7.2|
(a) Table refers to LGAs with populations of 5,000 or more persons.
Source: ABS, Regional Population Growth (ABS Cat. no. 3218.0)
Australia’s fastest growing LGA in 2014-15 was Camden Council, located in Sydney’s outer south west. In recent years, the rate of growth has accelerated and has generally been above 3.0% since 2007. Camden’s growth rate of 7.6% represented an increase of 5,100 persons in 2014-15. Most of this growth is occurring in new greenfield estates in suburbs such as Oran Park and Gregory Hills. Furthermore, there is considerable scope for growth well into the future across the northern part of the LGA in the coming decades.
Other fast growing LGAs in Sydney were located in established areas, reflecting the well established trend of apartment building. Botany Bay’s recent growth spurt in the Mascot Station Precinct was reflected in its strong growth rate of 4.4%. In contrast, aside from Melbourne City, which grew by 5.6%, all of the other fast growing LGAs in Melbourne were located on the urban fringe. Again, this continues well established spatial patterns of growth and change in our two largest cities.
Despite the slowdown in Greater Perth’s population growth, it’s not all doom and gloom. The growth rate recorded in 2014-15 (1.6%) was still above the national average, and it’s clear from the table above that there were several LGAs in the top 20. Serpentine – Jarrahdale is located on the south eastern outskirts of Perth, and it’s growth rate of 7.2% is off a much smaller base than most of the other LGAs in the top 20 – it represented an additional 1,620 persons. Perth’s other usual suspects appear in the top 20, including Armadale, Kwinana and Rockingham, all located in the outer south.
The other interesting entries in the top 20 were Litchfield in the Northern Territory, and Walkerville, in inner Adelaide. Litchfield is a large municipality that surrounds the greater Darwin metropolitan area, and its growth reflects the popularity of rural residential living and new housing opportunities in towns such as Coolalinga, Howard Springs and Humpty Doo. Walkerville’s growth was a massive increase compared to the average over the last ten years, and is reflective of the apartment construction trend that is spreading beyond the City of Adelaide.
What areas are losing population?
Australia has more than 560 LGAs, many of them quite small in population size. In LGAs with less than 1,000 persons, relatively small adjustments to the population can result in large percentage movements. Just over one third of Australia’s LGAs recorded a loss of population in 2014-15. Overwhelmingly, the LGAs recording the largest decline in population were located in outback Western Australia. The Shire of Menzies in the east goldfields region recorded the largest population decline of -5.3%, but this represented just 21 persons and a 2015 population of 378.
The only sizeable location to record substantial population decline was the Shire of East Pilbara in the Pilbara region (-4.4%). If you want a demographic representation of the mining boom and bust – this is the LGA for you. In the second part of the 2000s the Shire was generally growing by more than 10% per annum, and a peak population of 12,940 was recorded in 2012-13 (see graph below). Since that time the Shire has recorded population decline as labour requirements in mining areas have been scaled back, and the rate of -4.4% in 2014-15 represented 564 persons. Despite the economic output generated by mining operations, other LGAs in the northern part of WA either recorded little change to their populations or some decline, suggesting they too are feeling the impacts of the end of the mining boom.
Overall, LGAs located in inland Australia, particularly those with a resource or agricultural base, recorded population decline. In the case of agricultural regions this is continuing long standing trends associated with structural change, reduced labour requirements, drought and farm amalgamations.
For more information on this release, including numerous tables to download and explore, please refer to the ABS website.
If you want to learn more about which age groups are growing fastest in Australia, read our ebook: Three growth markets in Australia
.id is a team of population experts, who use a unique combination of online tools and consulting to help organisations decide where and when to locate their facilities and services, to meet the needs of changing populations.